Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lemony Pork Chops

One of the most apparent things about me (or so I think anyway) is that I am extremely frugal/cheap/stingy.  One of the main reasons that I want my own house is so that I can have a huge whopping vegetable garden so that I can reduce my grocery bill.  

One of my most cherished plants are herbs.  I love them so much that I found myself tending to a forest of basil and oregano this past summer.  Now that I don't have my own herbs at hand to use, my stingyness has spread to my consumption of them.  This is why I made almost the exact same recipe as the one below (obviously with different meat), since I refuse to let $.75 worth of parsley go to waste.  Mhmm.

This was my first foray into cooking pork, and I'm glad that I finally got around to it because it was an incredibly satisfying meal (and made great leftovers too).

Recipe from Great Food Fast

  • zest of 1 lemon- minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley- chopped
  • 1 garlic clove- minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 bone-in loin pork chops
Combine the lemon zest, parsley, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat up the olive oil in a skillet large enough to accommodate all of the pork chops over high heat.
Season each side of the pchops with salt and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes per side.
Add 1/2 cup of water to the skillet, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet.
Cook for 8-10 minutes.
Top the pchops with the parsley mixture and a drizzle of the pan juices and devour.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parmesan Chicken

I grew up devouring skin-on/bone-in chicken breasts.  Once I moved away and realized that touching raw chicken is... not the most fun thing ever, I switched to the boneless/skinless variety since it is less work and more versatile.  Apparently so has most of America, which makes finding the chicken for this meal an epic quest.  The only skin-on chicken that my store had was sold in a 10-pack (which was the same price as a 4-pack of skinless chicken), so I bundled up the extra breasts and threw them in the freezer so that I can make this meal again in the near future.  

This is a great recipe for those who enjoy more traditional meals, but is exciting enough for those who love expanding their palate.

Recipe from Great Food Fast

  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley- chopped
  • 1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 bone-in chicken breast halves
  • s&p
Preheat oven to 450.
Mix together all of the loose ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
Separate the mixture into 4 mounds.
Pull up the skin on the fleshy side of the chicken breasts and tuck in the mixture, season the chicken with s&p.
Place in a roasting pan and bake until the chicken is cooked to 165 degrees, which should be around 30 minutes depending on how large the chicken breasts are.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spicy Lentil Soup

There are few meatless meals that Alex enjoys, and there are few leftovers that Alex will actually bring to work the next day.  This is one of those meals, and it is SPICY.  If you are spice sensitive you will want to cut down on the amount of cayenne pepper.  I had a hard time with the soup straight up, but I served it with saffron rice which significantly lessoned the kick.
Rating 8.75/10

My tongue tingles just looking at the pic
Recipe from My Fiance Likes It

  • 1/2 cup lentils (any lentil variety should do, I used regular green lentils which are the easiest to find)
  • 1 onion- chopped
  • 1 tomato- chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 red bell pepper-seeded and chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper- seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
Prepare the lentils as indicated on their packaging, cook the turmeric and tomato with the lentils.
Heat a pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, bell peppers, and onion.  Stir until the onions soften and then add the garam masala.  
Continue to cook for about 1 minute then add in the cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice.
Combine the bell pepper mixture with the lentils, add in the vegetable stock, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more salt and pepper if necessary
Serve over saffron rice and enjoy!

Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki

This is one of my favorite recipes, and it is extremely easy.  I don't have much else to say about it!  Rating 9/10.

  • 3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic- minced
  • a few pinches of pepper
  • 1 tbsp corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • Green onions- chopped
  • 1 red onion- cut into strips
Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT for the cornstarch in a crockpot.
Cook on high for around 3-4 hours or on low for 6 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
If desired, add in cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
Heat up a small pan, add 1/3 cup of the juice from the crockpot and the red peppers.  Cook until heated through.
Serve the chicken and pepper over rice and garnish with green onions.

Pumpkin Brownies

When I moved back home to the Twin Cities I started working for my dad doing some super badass carpentry jobs.  Just so you know, nothing will boost your self-esteem more than being a girl smothered in painty clothes walking through the Home Depot at 7 am.

Anyway, physical grunt work took all of my energy, and my workout routine that I maintained for over a year kicked the bucket.  This didn't take much of a toll on my body since I was still doing very physical stuff at work.  In fact my skinny jeans from high school started to fit again.  Geez, was life ever hard!  Then work started slowing down for me, since I'm too inexperienced/short to do a lot of the jobs that my dad has had lined up.

This isn't a pity post, but since I stopped working for my dad full time I have developed more body insulation than necessary.
This is what 1 lb of fat looks like, tasty!

My solution?  Pick up my workout routine again- I have a wedding dress to fit into!  Sometimes I need to remind myself that even though I eat a healthy and balanced diet, I need to remain active in order to stay slim (and vice versa if I worked out but ate a lousy diet).  I made these brownies to mark the end of my laziness.  Counterintuitive?  Yes, but these brownies are relatively healthy compared to the classic brownie.  They are low fat, natural, but kind of high in sugar (especially if you eat half of the brownies- oops).

Anyway, I have recommitted myself to picking up my fitness routine once again.  That way I can remake these brownies again and not feel guilty :).  Tomorrow is always a fresh start!

I loved these brownies (obviously), but Alex didn't seem to be as crazy for them as I was.  I think that it had to do with the fact that I told him that they were healthy before he even had a bite, so he was probably seeking out potato or rutabaga undertones.  I give them a 9/10.

A while back I went to every craft store in my area to hunt for animal cracker shaped cookie cutters.  Definitely worth it.
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/16 tsp salt
  • Heaping 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional- I didn't add any)
Preheat oven to 330 degrees
Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine together.
Line an 8x8 pan with coconut oil and spread the batter over the pan.
Bake for ~25 minutes or until a knife can be inserted into the brownies and come out clean.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Quinoa Bake

I surprised Al with breakfast in bed yesterday.  This consisted of him being passed out, me walking in, poking him in the ribs and handing him a bowl full of this goodness.  He inquired as to what it was, I didn't answer because I thought that he might think that it was gross if he knew what it was.  Well, we both ended up loving it.  It had a hint of pumpkin without being too pumpkiny.  I especially loved the glaze (I may have eaten half of it while the quinoa mixture was baking).  If you get around to baking this, make sure that you use a dish that had an ovenproof lid.  Rating 8/10.

Recipe adapted from Healthful Pursuit


  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg and ginger


  • 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tbsp melted coconut oil mixed together
  • Walnuts, pecans, or almonds
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the first set of ingredients together and place in a dish that has a oven-safe lid.  
Cook covered for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the quinoa is soft.
Remove from oven, drizzle the topping over the quinoa.
Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Once in a while I like to make my man a special treat.  It's my way of showing my love and appreciation for him, since I can be a nag at times.  I like to make sure that these treats are packed with goodness, and that the empty calories are kept to a minimum.  One of the biggest calorie culprits in the pie world is the crust, and using jars is a great way to get around that dilemma.  Oh, and it helps that the finished product looks so cute (and can help with portion control if that is a problem for ya).

Adapted from Natural Noshing

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (or butternut squash)
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sweetener (I used turbinado sugar)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg and allspice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Blend all of the ingredients together and divide into jars that have been greased with butter or coconut oil (I used two pint-sized jars)
Bake for ~40 minutes or until a toothpick can be stuck into the center and comes up clean
Let cool and eat with granola, whipped cream, or nuts on top.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Have you ever been to PF Changs?  If so, then the chances are high that you have stabbed somebody's hand with your fork so that you could grab the last of the chicken wrap appetizer fixings for yourself.  It isn't anything to be ashamed of really, we've all done it.  Anyway, this dish is almost as good as the real deal.  If you already have all of the oils (most can be found in the ethnic aisle at your grocery store- don't ask any youngish grocery clerks where any of the more obscure sounding oils are- they don't know) then it is pretty cheap to whip up as well.  Hello future frequent meal!  Rating 9/10.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats


  • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 yellow onion- diced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger- minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic- minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • Sriracha sauce to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 green onions- chopped
  • 1/2 of an 8oz can of water chestnuts- chopped (found in the Asian section)
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Head of lettuce- bottom sliced off and leaves separated
Heat up a skillet over medium high heat and add in your ground meat and onion.  Stir frequently
Add all of the liquid ingredients together in a small microwaveable bowl and microwave it for 20 seconds- mix the liquids together and set aside.
Once the meat is mostly cooked add in the ginger, garlic, and liquid ingredients.
Once the meat has browned completely add in the green onions and water chestnuts, cook until the onions have wilted slightly.
Add sriracha sauce to taste (I added a couple of tbsp which left a nice residual zing on my taste buds)
Serve your meat wrapped on a lettuce leaf, or on top of a bed of greens if you don't want to risk having juice drip down to your forearm.  
Top with peanuts- devour!

Easy Marinara Chicken

Even though this recipe is extremely simple, I found myself continuously standing in front of the oven.  I wasn't laboring over the dish or anything, but I was opening the door to stick my snoz in it.  This dish is simple, enticing, and satisfying.

Also, using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts is much cheaper and much more flavorful.  8 all-natural thighs cost me around $4, can't beat that!

I swear that there is chicken in there somewhere!
Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 jars marinara sauce (Bertolli was one of the cheapest ones at my store that I found and it was great)
  • 1 yellow onion- diced
  • 4 garlic cloves- minced
  • 1 handful chopped parsley leaves
  • Parmesan cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add cook the chicken thighs for two minutes on each side.  This is to amp up the flavor a bit.
Remove the thighs (they won't be done yet) and add the onion and garlic to the skillet and stir until fragrant.
Add the thighs back into the pan and add the marinara sauce and parsley.
Place a lid on the skillet and place the pan on the middle rack of your oven.
Bake for 90 minutes and serve over your favorite pasta.

Serves 4